Lucia Helps the Knights
“Thanks! Much obliged, Soap Bubble Saint!” said the sandy-haired knight.
“We will guard you with our lives, rest assured!”
Both of them seemed honestly delighted by my agreement.
But could we please do something about that title!? Putting “soap bubble” and “saint”
together sounds far too ridiculous! It’s weird!
“Um… Please just call me Lucia? That title is… Well, it doesn’t seem respectful to the Sacred Maiden, and I really do prefer to be called by my name…”
“Lady Lucia, then!”
“I’m not a Lady!” Apparently these knights had been speaking far too highly of me!
The sandy-haired knight nodded. “If that’s what you prefer… Lucia, I’m Jeremiah Ascari, of the Third Regiment. The skinny guy here is Fedele Blitz.”
“I am at your service, Miss Lucia.” The honey-blond knight bowed.
Blitz? Come to think of it, Sir Celes had mentioned that one of the knights in his regiment
came from the Lily Blitz family. Was that this knight, then?
“Well then. If you would accompany us to the wall?” Sir Blitz continued.
Sir Ascari stopped him. “Wait. If she goes out like that, she’ll get soaked. Should we stop by the quartermaster?… Wait, our cloaks would be far too big for her.”
“It’s fine, I’ll go as I am,” I told them. “We’re in a hurry, right?” The rain had already slackened to a light drizzle, and I didn’t mind getting a little wet. Whether or not my Soap would work on the ogres, we had to put the defense of Arldat first!
“Then take this,” Sir Blitz said, and draped his own cloak over my shoulders and head. “It’s already wet, so it will be heavy, but it is at least better than nothing. Besides, the Academy enchants our uniforms with defensive magic, so it will help protect you.”
The cloak was heavy, since it was already soaked with rain. But laundrymaids are no weaklings! I could handle something like this, no problem. I did hesitate for a moment, but then I decided it would be best to simply accept for the time being. “Thank you, sir. I will return it as soon as I can.” At my thanks, Sir Blitz grinned happily.
The three of us passed by the bodies of the rocs and headed for the gardens beyond the broken balcony doors. The Academy students, it seemed, would stay behind with the wounded soldier to guard the ballroom. When I heard that, I bowed my head in thanks to them.
“We’ll be leaving the castle briefly. You ready?” Sir Ascari asked me gently.
I nodded. “Yes. I’ll try to keep up.” I was frightened, but I would regret it if I didn’t at least try.
Even considering the rain, it was already quite dark outside. What time was it, anyway?
The main gate of the castle was tightly shut. We went through a small door next to it, meant for the guards, and entered the town.
Ordinarily, the town was as lively as only the royal capital could be. But now, it was deathly quiet. No one had even set out any market booths today, thanks to the rain, and there wasn’t a soul to be seen anywhere. We ran down the empty cobblestone streets, straight down the main road.
When we reached the gates, however, the silence of the streets was broken by the occasional deep, dull boom that made the ground vibrate under our feet. Looking around, I saw soldiers clutching their weapons, standing ready to defend the gates. Unlike the knights, the soldiers wore armor. They looked very impressive.
“Third Regiment! Make way! We’re going onto the wall!” Sir Ascari shouted. Immediately, the mass of soldiers parted in front of the staircase next to the gate.
Wow! Oh, but this probably wasn’t a good time to be standing around marveling. Sir Ascari launched himself down the path that had opened, Sir Blitz right behind him.
I could feel everyone around me staring, wondering who I was. (I couldn’t blame them. A girl dressed like a laundrymaid running alongside two knights? That really made no sense!) Even so, I followed after Sir Blitz and Sir Ascari. Normally, only knights and soldiers were allowed onto the walls, so I’d never been there before. But I couldn’t say I was enjoying the experience.
“What’s the situation!?” Sir Ascari demanded.
“We’ve engaged them with catapults! Archers will release as soon as they come within range. As yet, the ogres haven’t…” The knight who’d answered him turned and saw me. A deep line furrowing his brow, he demanded, “Who is this?”
Sir Blitz put his hands on my shoulders. “Look closely! This is the Soap Bubble Saint, Guido!” he said.
Wait, just how many people use that name!?
“Huh… Wait, what? What is she doing here… Wait, why did you bring her up here!?” Sir Guido stared at me in consternation.
Which, yes, I was definitely out of place. I had some doubts myself about what I was doing here!
“Her magic can calm the monsters!” Sir Ascari explained. “The rocs lost all interest in fighting, they just let us slaughter them. They didn’t use their shock waves, they just waved their wings and stamped their feet a bit. It’s worth a try!”
“I witnessed it with my own eyes,” Sir Blitz agreed. “One spell, and even a ferocious roc became as docile as a simple bird. I promise, we will send her back before the walls are endangered. Let her try this!”
Sir Guido gave both of them a long, hard stare, seeming to weigh them with his gray eyes. The knights around us also looked skeptical. “…Really?” Sir Guido asked at last.
“Would I lie at a time like this?” Sir Blitz countered. “Merchants do lie when it suits them.”
“That is not so! Our motto is to always give our customers the truth! …And I am a knight!” Apparently without his notice, Sir Blitz’s lips pursed in annoyance. All I could do was listen to them bickering, my heart pounding painfully.
“Forget that, we need to get her to the front! Lucia, this way!” Impatiently, Sir Ascari shoved the gathered knights and soldiers aside, grabbed my hand, and pulled me forward.
I looked out beyond the walls, and froze in horror.
There had to be a hundred of them, maybe more. A horde of who knew how many monsters — surely those were ogres and ogresses — was approaching Arldat in a great mass. They were roaring their fury at the catapult stones falling around them. It was a deep, unsettling sound that
seemed to reverberate through my body and sent a chill running down my spine. In all honesty, this was terrifying. In a different way than seeing a roc right in front of me, but terrifying all the same!
Sir Blitz pressed a hand to my shaking shoulders. Glancing at him out of the corner of my eye, I saw him looking at me with concern in his quiet hazel eyes. “I’m sorry. I suppose this is a bit much for a young girl,” he said. “I hope you can forgive us for relying on you to do this.”
“No. I-I want to do…what I can. If I can help you at all, I have to try.”
I tightened my grip on the cloak draped over my head. Thanks to the watch fires burning in their iron grilles around me, our surroundings were brighter than I’d expected.
Mother. Sir Celes. Please, give me courage!
“Here I go.” I drew in a deep breath, trying to calm myself. Then I set my focus on the approaching monsters, close enough now that I could see them clearly. If I couldn’t make the effort now, then when would I?
“Soap!” I shouted.
At my incantation, my vision suddenly filled with countless soap bubbles — and then everything went black.